Lord Winston, fertility expert and broadcaster, discussed his thoughts on ethical issues at the beginning and end of life with a specially invited audience of young people in a talk called ‘Politicians’ Problems and Doctors’ Dilemmas’ on Thursday 23 June at the House of Lords.
Nearly 200 students, aged 14-18, from schools across the UK attended the Robing Room Lecture, part of the House of Lords outreach programme, which aims to reach out to different groups and communities to encourage their interest in the House of Lords.
‘The basic ethical principle that drives everybody and that is the sanctity of human life – that’s the basic issue, and around that there are a huge number of dilemmas. ‘Your ethical principles can only be a good as your understanding of the natural world,’ Lord Winston said ahead of the talk.
‘You can’t simply argue that life begins at conception because life begins before conception – a sperm is alive, an egg is alive. It’s as important to understand the biological principles in that case as it is in engineering to understand the ethics of using the wrong kind of concrete. You cannot expect there to be an ethical principle unless there are sound foundations for the basic knowledge,’ he added.
The Lord Speaker, Baroness Hayman, said that outreach events like these ‘share the privilege of hearing real experts and very good communicators talk about their fields.’ She hoped it would also ‘provoke interest in the fact that Parliament deals with real and important issues that affect people in their daily lives.’
Find out more about the House of Lords outreach programme:
Image: Lord Winston and the Lord Speaker, Baroness Hayman. By Colin Whyman/Parliamentary copyright.